Although the most sustained and influential conflict of the twentieth century, the Cold War has no publicly-commissioned commemoration in the United States.
Two years ago, one artist took that fact as inspiration for a fascinating conceptual project. In November 2012 Yevgeniy Fiks, along with curator Stamatina Gregory, formed the Committee for Tacit History. In a nod to the 1952 competition for a Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner, the Committee issued an international call for proposals for a ‘Monument to Cold War Victory’.
In April 2013 a group of Cold War art experts whittled down the 200 submissions to 17 finalists. For the next month, those shortlisted projects – featuring the work of artists from across the United States, Europe, Latin America and the former Soviet republics – are on display at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York.
While questioning the validity of public commissions and war memorials, Monument to Cold War Victory also challenges belief in that victory, as ongoing conflict in the Middle East, Edward Snowden’s revelations and recent sanctions against Russia reveal the ongoing impact of half a century of sustained ideological struggle.
Szabolcs KissPál, Hollywood Ten, 2014. Wallpaper, 108 x 161 inches. Courtesy of the artist